Atheists admit that if God does not exist then the universe is both purposeless and meaningless. The late William Provine penned that “The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life” (1). And as Jon Casmir would agree, “There is no meaning of life. The whole thing is a gyp, a never-ending corridor to nowhere” (2).
Such conclusions are not disputed by the majority of atheists. Most, whether they admit it or sugarcoat it, believe that the universe, in its very essence, is purposeless and meaningless should God not exist. Many atheists have noted this, and attempted to construct a subjective purpose and meaning for human life. Michael Shermer, for example, said so in no uncertain terms claiming that “we can develop ways to make us feel better; feeling like we have a purpose” (3).
As ideological opponents to atheism have pointed out, this leaves one with several fairly significant problems. Philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig is one such voice to do so. In one lively debate, Craig criticizes the idea that atheists can just make subjective meaning for themselves when, at bottom, atheism doesn’t allow for any meaning and purpose whatsoever,
“This just is to say that we can pretend that the universe exists for some purpose and this is just make belief. This is the subjective illusion of purpose. But there is on this view no objective purpose for the universe. And we, of course, would never deny that you could develop subjective purposes for your life. The point is on atheism they are all illusory. And that is why I agree with Richard Dawkins when he said, “at bottom this is an emotional question rather than a rational one.” I wish I had the courage to say that. I am convinced that people adopt atheism primarily for emotional rather than rational purposes” (4).
The atheist, argues Craig, shows a great practical inconsistency here which leads him to conclude that atheism is irrational,
“But you cannot live as if your life is purposeless and meaningless. And therefore you adopt subjective illusions of purpose to make your life livable. And that is why I not only think atheism is irrational but it is profoundly unlivable. You cannot live consistently and purposefully within the context of an atheistic worldview” (5).
1. Provine, W. 1998. Scientists, Face it! Science and Religion are Incompatible. Available.
2. Jon Casimir quoted by John Marsden in This I Believe (1995). p. 48.
3. William Lane Craig at his Best (3min: 27sec). Available.
4. William Lane Craig at his Best (3min: 30sec – 4min: 15sec). Available
5. William Lane Craig at his Best (4min: 20sec – 4min: 40sec)Available